HFMA03154U Modul 4: Big data – the hype, the theories, and the implications

Volume 2014/2015
Master in Film and Media Studies

Big data has become all the buzz. Through the collection and accumulation of the bit trails that the users of social and other digital media leave behind, private organizations and public institutions are able to track their communications and other interactions in ever finer detail. Depending on commentators’ political and ethical perspectives, big data have been described in utopian as well as dystopian terms – as an unprecedented resource for the study of society and culture, or as Big Brother come true. This course addresses big data as a theoretical and analytical issue: what does ’data’ mean; how big are ’big’ data; and in what respects do big-data methodologies differ from (and resemble) other approaches to communication and culture? The first part of the course introduces the phenomenon of big data along with key concepts from theories of communication and meta-communication. The second part considers different areas of application for big data, including research on media audiences and the writing of cultural history. The third and final part of the course takes up some of the normative implications of big data with reference to what is sometimes referred to as habeas data – the right to have and hold the data, information, and communications that are you.


All participants are required make brief presentations in class, and to comment on presentations by others.


Learning Outcome
Master in Film and Media Studies 2013-curriculum:

Modul 4: Audience and user studies: HFMK03071E
Modul 7: Optional subject 1: HFMK03131E
Modul 7: Optional subject 2: HFMK03141E
Modul 7: Optional subject 3: HFMK03151E
Modul 7: Optional subject 4: HFMK03161E

Curriculum for the Master’s Programme in Film Studies, The 2008 Curriculum:
Modul 6: Optional subject 1: HFVA04171E
Modul 6: Optional subject 1: HFVA04181E
Modul 6: Optional subject 2: HFVA04191E
Modul 6: Optional subject 2: HFVA04201E

Curriculum for Master's Programme in Media Studies, The 2008 Curriculum:

Modul 2: Audience and user studies: HMEK03121E 
Modul 8: Optional subject 1: HMEK03191E
Modul 8: Optional subject 1: HMEK03201E
Modul 8: Optional subject 2: HMEK03211E
Modul 8: Optional subject 2: HMEK03221E

Curriculum for Master´s Programme in Communication and IT, The 2012 Curriculum:
Modul 5: Optional subject 1: HKMK03051E
Modul 5: Optional subject 2: HKMK03061E

Erez Aiden & Jean-Baptiste Michel (2013). Uncharted: Big Data as a Lens on Human Culture. New York: Riverhead.

Viktor Mayer-Schönberger and Kenneth Cukier, 2013. Big Data: A Revolution That Will Transform How We Live, Work, and Think. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.
Lectures, student presentations, seminar discussions.
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 42
  • Course Preparation
  • 367,5
  • Total
  • 409,5
Type of assessment
For details, see the curriculum
Criteria for exam assesment